Why You SHOULDN’T Start a Law Firm Podcast

82% of podcasts fail.

If you are thinking about starting a podcast to market your law practice, stop. Don’t do it. And stop listening to marketers who don’t know what it takes to not only produce but to start and grow a successful podcast.  Let’s face it – if you are reading this post, you also probably have no clue what it takes to really make a podcast successful.

I’m certainly not saying podcasts aren’t an effective marketing mechanism – along with co-host, Gyi Tskakalakis, I podcast bimonthly at Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. It gives me a great opportunity to talk to a dedicated, engaged, regular audience; showcase my deep understanding of digital marketing, and display my rough-around-the-edges, no-bullshit personality in a way that most standard marketing can’t. That’s a huge value. But I also know that Lunch Hour Legal Marketing’s success in podcasting has come at a large investment in time, consistency, money, audio expertise, and leveraged social media equity.  And it’s the latter elements of podcasting that are so easily glossed over by naively optimistic legal marketers who jump on the podcast bandwagon because they listen to Pod Save America on their commute. The same experts who jumped on “content is king”, multiple domains, .law TLDs, meerkat, and Clubhouse. The truth is, podcasting success is often pitched by marketers who don’t understand the Field of Dreams content marketing fallacy: build it and they will come. Write the blog and they will come. Shoot the video and they will come. Tik the Tok and they will come. And now… record the podcast and they will come.

If I haven’t dissuaded or insulted you yet, please read on to see some of the pitfalls of podcasting along with some recommendations of what it takes to make a podcast successful…

Podcasting is Very Very Crowded

The fundamental problem with podcasts is there are lots of them. Lots and lots. And the growth in podcasts has far outpaced the growth in ears listening to podcasts. This isn’t a new marketing phenomenon; way back in 2015 a prescient writer at Wired published this post: If Podcasts Are the New Blogs, Enjoy the Golden Age While It Lasts – the key element in this headline being “While It Lasts”.  Perhaps the entire perspective on my post is summed up in the Wired subheadline:

“Podcasts hold the promise of a great new democratized medium. But how many blogs do you read now?”

Indeed most people aren’t consuming more and more blog content, but does that hold true for each podcast episode (spoiler alert – it does).  While the number of podcast subscribers has steadily increased –  with more than 30% of the US population listening to podcasts monthly, there are now over 2 million podcasts with over 48 million episodes.  Supply went on a date with Demand and the result is not in your freshman personal injury blog podcast’s favor. ListenNotes (a podcast search engine) reports over 10K podcasts covering law – sure, some of them might be about “murphy’s law” or “laws of attraction” but there’s over 2,500 titled Lawyer. You really sure you want to be #2,501? So while the Field of Dreams theory worked for Kevin Costner, it doesn’t really work for content on the internet (and never has).

The practice of Content Marketing is really missing the point. Content Marketing should really be called Marketing Content – because the emphasis (of your time, money, effort, human capital) should be focused on the marketing side of it, yet almost all lawyers and most marketers focus exclusively on the tangible, fun Content part. (It’s especially convenient for lazy agencies who pass the effort on to their legal clients but fail to push their role – the Marketing part…. “yeah yeah yeah, just keep up with that content creation thing and eventually….”)  A very blunt and unscientific rule of thumb for Content Marketing is 20/80 – i.e. you should spend four times as much effort (time and/or money) on marketing the content as you spend on creating it. Now consider recording a half-hour podcast; you spend a bare minimum of 30 minutes on post production and distribution. Are you really up for putting in the additional 4 hours of hard work needed to market it?  Probably not.

Podcast Failures – by the Numbers

While there is much coverage about the explosion of podcasts and podcast listenership, very little has been written or analyzed about podcast failure.  In an interview with Amplifi Media, Blubrry (a podcasting tool) CEO, Todd Cochrane notes that just 18% of podcasts added new content in the past three months. Deeper analysis shows that more than half of all podcasts are abandoned within a year of launch. Put another way, your marriage is more likely to succeed than your podcast. How’s that for a downer on way too many levels?

Marketing a Podcast

So in order to avoid becoming a podcasting statistic…. don’t underestimate the effort required in building a regular listenership of subscribers eagerly anticipating your next audio wisdom drop on Apple Podcasts. Driving listeners requires much more than amazing, engaging content (yeah – you heard that from an SEO dude). It requires a turning of the marketing flywheel – essentially a lot of hard work to build to a level of self-sustaining audience growth where your listeners drive more listeners and your download success keeps you at the top of the podcast recommendation engines. Trending podcast anyone? (And yup…. here’s an entirely new algorithm optimization science to learn). Sure, if you have an existing, loyal, engaged social profile you can add podcasts to the panoply of content delivered to your audience.  But if you don’t, it’s time to start advertising, promoting, cross podcasting, writing, and rewriting titles and descriptions. Time to learn the vagaries of an entirely new marketing channel – how to optimize each episode across numerous podcasting platforms. Learn new KPI’s, master new software, and invest in new tools Veritronic, Podtrac, Chartable.

And don’t forget, while you are marketing that podcast…. that is resources and brain space you aren’t using to directly market your firm.

The Train Has Left The Station

Let’s go back to the Wired headline: “Enjoy the Golden Age While It Lasts”. Marketing your podcast today is MUCH more difficult than it was 5 years (or even 5 months) ago. Just like early adopter blogs, which had a unique advantage in building readership, early podcasts have established their audience and this gives them an unfair advantage of commanding the downloads and ears of your potential podcast audience. Read another way: switching loyal listeners from an established podcast to a new one is difficult and with over 2,000 new podcasts being introduced every week, the math is stacked against you. The first-mover advantage is very real in both blogs and podcasting. Remember that flywheel analogy earlier?  That flywheel is much much heavier today than it was historically.  If you are considering starting a podcast today, that first-mover advantage is so far in the rear-view mirror that you have an uphill battle to climb.

Your Legal Content Is (Probably) Boring

Sorry bloggers and now podcasters – most of your pertinent legal content is not the stuff of podcast success.  “10 Things to Do after you receive a traffic ticket in Minneapolis.” Bleh. I’d rather listen to 10th-grade trigonometry class over Zoom from a bored, underpaid, and under-appreciated teacher. This is further complicated by the temporal nature of podcasts colliding with the evergreen nature of the majority of high converting legal content – i.e. what’s the latest and greatest new information about probate? You may work in a practice area that is more newsworthy and coverable – changes in tax law for example (yawn), but by and large those high converting head terms “car accident lawyer San Diego” really aren’t podcast worthy.

So your dull law firm content must be malleable. The challenge becomes reframing your criminal defense law firm podcast into a more interesting, pertinent, timely, consumer-friendly focus – covering the budding marijuana industry in St. Louis, for example. Or your family law practice into a podcast on celebrity divorces. Or move away from law entirely and talk about your community – your PI law firm’s podcast talks about favorite restaurants in Rhode Island – the Providence Pizza Podcast. But ultimately, given the general nature of law firms, you almost certainly need to spin, shift, pivot, reframe, or otherwise do something to dress up your dull law firm content.

Podcasting and SEO

It seems like every latest marketing shiny object includes the promise of “improving your SEO”.  The push by marketers and agencies towards podcasts is almost comical… a recent marketing expert extolling the SEO virtues of podcasts for lawyers included this gem:

The potential for high SEO value is one of the added benefits of producing a podcast. Your law firm can advance its marketing goals with a podcast that is rich in relevant keywords and phrases, backlinks, social mentions and shareable content.

A podcast rich in relevant keywords…. rich in backlinks? Backlinks? Can someone please explain the HTML code one uses to insert a link into an audio file? And haven’t we put to bed the “social mentions as an SEO ranking factor” theory? It’s not that great podcasts can’t generate links – guest podcasting can drive links to bio pages, episodes that are featured (and marketed) on your own site may drive links, show notes with links, etc., just don’t forget that the vast majority of podcasts are syndicated and most podcasts earned links will go to those syndication sources instead of your law firm website.  For more on Podcasting and real Linkbuilding try: How to Use Podcasts for Linkbuilding, but my meta point remains – the “record a podcast and SEO will magically happen” is a far-fetched Field of Dreams. And yes, I’m still waiting for that link.

Recording Podcasts Well

Actually, recording and post-producing a podcast requires a special talent, background, and experience.  Read differently: while amateur video may lend an air of personality and accessibility to a lawyer, a poorly produced podcast is… just frankly hard to listen to. And this gets increasingly complicated when you include more than one person on a podcast; matching audio volumes and different recording software is far from straightforward.  Additionally, podcasts invariably require post-production from multiple takes due to verbal fumbles, missed talking points, and if you are like me, removing the occasional spontaneous f-bomb. Our Lunch Hour Legal Marketing podcast has an amazing professional recording and production crew who handles all of this, headaches we don’t have to worry about; but you do.

I’m not suggesting podcasts don’t work… just that most people who are mulling, “should I start a podcast” have very little insight into the time, effort, and money required to make them successful. So… if your agency is pushing you to podcast, ask them what the KPIs are, how they configure GarageBand, how to promote a loyal readership, what tools you need, how to generate appealing content, and exactly what it takes to get an episode trending. I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying it’s much harder than the marketing experts you’ve been listening to realize.

82% of all podcasts fail – and most of them have more innate consumer-centric appeal than your Atlanta Criminal Defense Law Firm Podcast.  And if I still haven’t convinced you… tune in tomorrow for a post from the producer of my podcast, Lunch Hour Legal Marketing he showcases what it takes to generate an amazing podcast. (Don’t know what a plosive is?….  tune in tomorrow to find out.).

Beware the FOMO Legal Marketing Agency Ads

Your social feeds are probably crammed with ads from legal internet marketing “experts” that use FOMO to sell.  They are also full of empty promises.  But let me start with the punchline: legal marketing isn’t easy. Success requires hard work, significant investments, a touch of luck and a well oiled intake machine.

The formula for these ads is very simple:

    1. Promises of riches –  frequently uses “7 or 8-figure practice” verbiage.
    2. Missing Out – Your competitors are already winning at this game.
    3. “It’s Simple” Messaging – “follow these 4 steps”, “cut and paste”.
    4. Proprietary – the “it’s simple” often oblique references a Shiny Tech Object (SHITO?)  or a “secret”.

This type of adverting pulls on the base psychological premise: fear of missing out (FOMO).  “You are missing out on easy money your competitors enjoy because you don’t know my simple secrets.” And if you see these messages enough, subconsciously the messaging enters your brain and becomes part of your internal dialogue. Think this doesn’t work?  Just go back to the last election season to see the ease of manipulating reality through highly targeted, and scientifically optimized messaging.  Or read more on FOMO marketing here.  These ads are scientifically designed to get you to click through, perhaps submit your email address…turning you into another line item in a marketer’s database.

But the truth is, it’s hard. There aren’t simple steps, there’s no easy solution, and the competition is getting worse, not better. Since I got into the internet marketing game back in 2006, I’ve never seen the market so competitive – there are more lawyers chasing SEO, bidding on keywords, faking offices, pushing out engaging video content and building fans on TikTok (hi Kelly!). If you think its simple, boy do I have an email drip campaign for you to sign up for.

FOMO Examples

Want to learn when you are being FOMO’d?  I’ve pulled a few examples to help acquaint you with this genre of advertising so you recognize them when they cross your path on Facebook, Instagram, and even TV….

This one is classic – 1)secrets 2)7-figures, 3)it’s simple 4)others are doing it.

You too, can be like Eddie, quaffing oversized drinks with your girlfriend and traveling the world, if you just knew about New Technology (3D Legal Advertising!!!!) that generates more cases than SEO, PPC and Lead Gen combined! (Except of course, Eddie was never a lawyer, but don’t let those little details creep into your mind….).

And here’s a guy claiming that over 30% of his clients (that he landed with nothing more than powerpoint) have written a perfect, 5 star review.  Really?  Along with the ultimate sad lawyer FOMO imagery… 

In this instance, the “Big Bang” of the legal industry is just three simple steps followed by 164 other attorneys (did I mention you are missing out?)

Some more promises with an unmentioned new client AI technology that strangely didn’t even exist in 2020, but simultaneously was perfected over the past year.  Math anyone?

Here you go lawyers… copy and paste our secret and get on your way to an 8 figure law firm….

 

UPDATE: Just got this new one…. you too could be lounging on a boat with this simple, two step strategy!

Google Begins Rolling Out COVID-19 Relief Ad Credits. Here’s How to Check If You Got Them.

Back in March, Google announced plans to provide advertising credits to small and medium-sized businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Google started granting these ad credits to eligible accounts.

Who was eligible for these credits?

In order to have qualified for these credits, your Google Ads account must have met the following criteria:

  • have actively advertised with a Google Ads account for 10 out of 12 months in 2019
  • have actively advertised on Google Ads in January and/or February of this year

You do not have to be advertising directly with Google. Firms who are advertising through a third-party partner are also eligible to receive these credits.

How do I know if I have a credit?

To see if you have received the credit, all you have to do is log into your Google Ads account. There will be a banner at the top that displays the credit amount that has been granted.

Another way to check whether you have received the credits is by accessing the Promotions section of your account. You can access it by going to Tools & Settings > Billing > Promotions.

From there, you will be able to see the amount, the date it was applied, and the amount that has been used so far.

Credit amounts will vary. The maximum amount an account can receive is $1000. These credits can be used through December 31, 2020. After that, any unused credits will be removed from your account.

View Google’s support documentation for more information about the ad credit rollout.

Endnote: and if your agency won’t give you access to any of this…chalk that up to yet another thing they don’t want you to see in what should be your account.

Study: Google Ads Costs Increase by 42% during COVID Crisis

The massive shifts in consumer behavior combined with attorneys carefully extending their cash flow window has created a seismic shift in the economics of Google’s already competitive PPC advertising market.  Mockingbird took a deep dive into the performance (carefully defined…. keep reading) of a random sample of 50 our our PPC clients to ascertain just how this has impacted the market.  The net result:

A 42% increase in average cost per inquiry; although this is heavily colored by practice area and geography and individual firm strategies.

Methodology

Given the massive flux in the market, it’s impossible to isolate any given variables for a truly scientific study – there are simple too many exogenous variables impacting any given campaign.  In addition, Mockingbird has been very hands on during the COVID Crisis, especially with our PPC campaigns – adjusting models to (try) to fit the changing dynamics of the market along with our lawyers’ individual business reality.  Some clients added campaigns to capture marketshare, others pulled back completely to preserve cash flow.  Taking into account all of these moving parts, the average overall cost per inquiry across the legal advertisers who stayed in the market between February and the end of April increased by 42%. Monthly campaign budgets ranged from $700 to over $100K. We looked at the first two weeks of February as a pre-COVID benchmark and compared it to the last 14 days (ending yesterday).  While we looked at a variety of different metrics the only one that really matters is cost per inquiry – and inquiries defined by a (first time) phone call, text, chat or form fill to an attorney.

Sidebar:  Branded Advertising and Devious Marketing Agencies

In addition, for a true analysis, we pulled out branded advertising – i.e. those campaigns that bidding on the firm’s name or the name of attorneys within the firm, because these clicks and inquiries aren’t truly incremental conversions.  Note this is one of the dirty tricks terrible agencies use to inflate their value…. i.e. counting an inquiry for “Attorney Bill Smith” as being as valuable as one for “truck accident lawyer Atlanta”.  In addition, these branded conversions are extremely cheap and are used as metrics filler by agencies to inflate their numbers.  In our study, branded campaigns generated inquiries at just over $10 per.

Oh – and if you don’t have access to your Google Ads account, you might ask yourself, “what does my agency not want me to see?  are they hiding their performance?  are they hiding my actual advertising spend?” You are a lawyer.  Be a smart marketer too. Smart lawyers don’t let their agency hide data.

Results, Conclusions and Anecdotes

While the average advertising campaign saw cost per client numbers rise by 42%, there was an extremely wide distribution of the results – with fully 17 of the study group actually seeing a decline in cost per client data.  4 of the top 5 savers in this study were mixed firms how dropped Personal Injury entirely and retained budgets with other practice areas – so again, not a purely scientific study, but my goal here is to help our clients survive, not publish studies.  Interestingly, of the top 9 advertisers who experienced the highest increase in cost per client, only two were PI – the others being in Tax, Immigration, Family and Social Security.

Surprisingly, CPC rates actually declined – prior to COVID, across all non-branded average CPCs were $15.55 and during the past two weeks, this number has actually declined to $12.80.  I suspect this is attributable to some degree to the changes in makeup of practice areas (attorneys dropping expensive PI clicks) but to some extent, is also due to competitors pulling out of the market.  So if CPC rates are dropping, why have costs actually increased?  The answer lies in a decrease in the inquiry rate, the percentage of people who contact a lawyer after clicking on the ad. People are simply contacting lawyers 14% less frequently than they were before – which means there are more tire kickers, researchers and those that frankly are concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer in this very uncertain economic reality.

Other thoughts:

  • One PI client, flush with cash from a recent settlement aggressive expanded his spend by 6.2x – going from dabbling to a much more aggressive approach including branded display ads has a tenfold increase in inquiries at a 35% lower cost per inquiry.  His market conditions just favored this approach.
  • The practice area that was most likely to completely abandon the market post COVID were Criminal Defense attorneys – especially campaigns focused around DUI.
  • Four of the 50 advertisers actually entered the market during this period.
  • 60% of the study changed their budgets by more than 20%…. if you haven’t adjust your budgets to match the market, now might be a good time to do so. The graph below shows a very wide spectrum in the changes in budgets.

Learn More

If you’d like to dig even deeper into the data, we’re reviewing the raw data with our Mastermind group, held on Thursday afternoons.  Apply to join us here: CORONA Crisis Mastermind.

Or join me and Google’s Sherri Healy next Wednesday, May 6 at 10:00 PST for a webinar.  Register here: The Changing Economics of PPC in Legal.

Never Advertise Without This

I’ve taken over hundreds of law firms’ Google Ads accounts, and about 90% of those were set up incorrectly. This isn’t my opinion on “the right” bid strategy, or me judging an old agency’s ad copy, but a fundamental fact that the account is essentially broken.

Too many times, search campaigns have been running for months (or years) and the account FAILS the very first thing we look at. Their previous agencies boasted about delivering thousands of impressions and hundreds of clicks at such a low cost-per-click (CPC) that “it’s basically like free advertising!”


Just stop.

First of all, impressions are so inconsequential that we’ve removed that metric completely from our Google Search monthly reports. Same with CPC. Seriously. We don’t care, and you shouldn’t either.

Here’s why.

Search campaigns are designed to deliver conversions. You advertise because you want new leads. Most Google Ads accounts we’ve taken over don’t have any conversion tracking at all! Sure, your campaign generated a thousand clicks, but how did that help your business? Oh, those people might have called you? Why don’t you track, I don’t know… phone calls as conversions?

Don’t advertise without tracking what matters.

The first thing you should do before building any campaign is ask yourself what’s the point? Not in the “I give up, what’s the point of trying?” sort of way, but what’s the purpose, what are your goals, what’s important to you?

For most law firms, it’s form fills and phone calls. You need to list out all the ways people can contact your firm, as there may be more conversion paths than you originally thought:

  • Phone calls from ad extensions
  • Phone calls from your site’s main number
  • Phone calls from your site’s toll-free number
  • Form fills on your contact page
  • Form fills on your footer or sidebar
  • Form fills to download your e-book
  • Chat leads
  • Text messages
  • Newsletter signups

There are a lot of ways people can contact your firm. Track them all!

SIDE NOTE: Please don’t list any email addresses on your site. 1) Google Ads can’t track who emails you, 2) your client’s should already know how to get a hold of you, and 3) you’ll get less spam from bots.

Stop looking at impressions, clicks, and CPC as metrics for success. Instead, analyze your cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Are these conversions turning into clients? Move your focus downstream.

Of course all metrics are important to some degree. As an advertiser, I am hyper focused on CTR and CVR and QS and SIS and ETC… But as a lawyer, you don’t need to know all that. You’re advertising to generate leads, and you need to know if that’s happening at a reasonable rate.

If you advertise without conversion tracking, you might as well save yourself a couple grand and cancel now.

Google to Provide $340 Million in Ad Credits to SMBs

Recently, Google announced that they will be providing $340 million in ad credits for small and medium-sized businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes as part of their $800 million pledge toward aiding businesses and global crisis response.

Who is eligible for these credits?

These credits will be available to SMB advertisers who have been active since the beginning of 2019. This means that if you have had an existing Google Ads account since January 1, 2019, and it is active, you are eligible to receive these credits. You will not receive these credits if you create a new Google Ads account or if your account has been deactivated due to inactivity.

When will credits be available?

These credits are not immediately available. However, SMB advertisers that are eligible for credits will receive a notification in their Google Ads account in the coming months. These credits can be used anytime until the end of 2020. After that, all unused credits will be removed from the account.

 

View Google’s full statement and support documentation about the ad credits initiative for more information.

How to Use Your COVID-19 Downtime To Help Your Law Firm Grow

There’s no doubt about it, we’re all having to change our daily routines because of COVID-19. Many law firms are finding themselves with more downtime than they’re used to, and that can be very scary as a small business owner.

We’ve been talking to our clients a lot lately about whether they should be pausing all advertising, switching focus on their current marketing projects, and even helping them learn new tools and technology to help them work remotely.

Since no one knows when things will start going back to normal, here’s a list of things you, as an attorney or an employee at a law firm, can do to help your business for the long-haul:

  1. Write New Content: You know that content you’ve been meaning to write over the past six months, or even six years? Now is a great time to revisit that list and start churning out your new practice types or sub categories. If you have the flexibility to add new practice types that might help your business now (think bankruptcy, divorce, wills & trusts), create content on those and add them to your website.
  2. Audit Your Site: Not sure if you need new content? Take a look at what you have on your website. If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance you have some outdated or irrelevant content on your site. Figure out what’s most important to your business and what you want your potential clients to be able to find, or not find.
  3. Audit Your Own Intake Process: If you’ve utilized CallRail’s recording capabilities, now is a great time to go back and listen to how your staff handles your inbound calls. If you don’t record calls, go through your front desk’s process or list of questions they use to qualify a new lead. Are there things missing from the list? Things that could be added?
  4. Work on Your Social Media Presence: With so many people at home and on their computers, you should come up with other ways to get in front of people. While social sites may not be the best converting marketing channel, it does help with your local brand exposure. It’s also a great way to build trust with members of your community. We’ve already seen a lot of really great stories come out over the past couple of weeks of local businesses helping their community through these hard times.
  5. Get Involved: If you’re able, use your legal expertise to help those who have legal questions. If you’re an employment attorney, many people are unsure if they qualify for unemployment. Even if you can’t help the person now, they may need your services in the future and will turn to you.
  6. Go Digital: For those of you still using snail mail and handwritten documents, switch over to something like DocuSign. Move all of your files off of your hard drive and on to the cloud. You can also embrace video conferencing and invest in a good webcam and microphone.
  7. Email Campaigns: Use that long list of emails you have from people filling out your website’s contact form and create drip email campaigns to hit people now while they’re doing research on potential lawyers.
  8. Create a Marketing Plan: For some, marketing is one of the last things you think about when it come to your business. Think about where you’d like to be in the next year, 5 years, or 10 years, and start planning what you need to do to get there. There’s also a lot of really great blog content out there that’s designed specifically for lawyers and their marketing…hint, hint.
  9. Watch Webinars: Use this time to learn something that can help your business later on. There are plenty of tools and marketing agencies putting on more webinars than normal.
  10. Attend a Virtual Conference: A lot of conferences have had to move to a virtual platform, including ours, but are still covering the same topics they would have at their physical events. Instead of paying a couple thousand dollars to attend a conference far away, spend a few hundred to get the same great information, but from the comfort of your own home.

Even though things are uncertain at the moment, you can use this time to do all the things you never had time to do before, and set yourself up for success once everything blows over.

If you’re interested in getting an experts opinion on how you should be handling your law firm’s business and marketing, give us a call.

 

 

Should Law Firms Pause Ads During Coronavirus?

With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, we are truly in tumultuous times. Businesses are attempting to operate remotely, fine dining restaurants are becoming drive through burger joints, and people are being forced to shelter in place across the country. This is affecting absolutely everyone in one way or another, and nobody knows when things might return to normal.

Law firms are in a confusing position. Attorney fees may be seen as a luxury, as many people are losing their jobs and struggling to pay rent. However, the need for legal assistance is not going away, and people stuck at home are turning towards the internet for entertainment, news, and research. So how should law firms adapt? Should you continue advertising? Should you increase ad spend? Change campaign strategies? Test new platforms?

In the word’s of every great marketer, “It depends.”

Why Firms Should Stop Advertising Right Now

Mockingbird always puts our clients’ best interests first. Good or bad, we tell it like it is. Yes we get paid on a percent of ad spend, but we’ll never keep campaigns running that don’t make sense for your firm.

If your firm has the any of the following symptoms, you should stop advertising immediately:

  • You can’t afford to pay your employees.
  • You can’t afford to pay basic utilities.
  • You can’t accept inbound calls.
  • You can’t handle cases effectively while working remotely.
  • Your campaign’s cost per acquisition (CPA) is way too high.

The purpose of (good) advertising is to deliver leads, but there is a time delay as to when you might see a return. If your firm is struggling to pay for the basics, move your budget from your Marketing department to HR.

Why Firms Should Absolutely Keep Advertising

In a time where leads may be slow, don’t make it worse by turning off campaigns that deliver leads. Volume may be down, but you need to think hard before panicking and cutting budgets. In certain cases, you may want to shift budgets from Search to Remarketing or Display. Under certain circumstances, now may be a great time to actually increase ad spend.

If any of the following applies to your firm, you should probably keep your campaigns running:

  • Your firm is setup to work remotely (handle intake, and case work).
  • You have enough cash on hand to treat advertising like a long(er) term investment.
  • You practice Bankruptcy, Employment, or Divorce, and expect an uptick in business (think about doubling down here).
  • Your campaigns are delivering a strong cost per acquisition (CPA).
  • Your campaigns continue to perform (watch them closely).
  • Other firms are pausing ads, making the auction less competitive and cheaper.
  • People are spending more time on Facebook and Youtube (read: ad delivery platforms).
  • More people are watching TV, so your TV commercials cost the same but have increased visibility.

Things That Don’t Matter, and Why

  • Courts are closed –> Reset clients’ expectations around timelines.
  • People aren’t searching as much –> Be available to those who are looking for help.
  • People think we’re closed –> Add “we’re open” messaging to your site, your GMB description, and post on social.
  • We need clients to sign papers –> Use DocuSign.
  • I can’t talk to my cowkorkers like normal –> Install Slack, or Google Hangouts Meet, or Zoom.

So Really, It Depends…

There is no right answer as to how ALL law firms should adapt to changes brought by COVID-19. Take a very close look at YOUR firm’s current situation, and evaluate. It’s not necessarily about if ads are getting cheaper, or more expensive, or if there’s less volume. The argument for “why advertise” is still the same. The market has changed dramatically, people may take longer to reach out, and you should always make sure campaigns meet CPA goals, but first things first. Are you prepared to continue operating? Can you pay your employees? Can you answer the phone? Figure that out, and then think about how to continue signing clients.

The Difference Between a Lead and a Conversion (and Why You’re Responsible for the Latter)

A lot of digital marketers talk about the importance of leads and conversions. We’re no exception. We often even use the terms interchangeably. This is incorrect.

Leads and conversions are actually two very different metrics. They are the difference between someone asking a store clerk for help and someone actually purchasing something. By using them interchangeably proper credit for business growth or stagnation cannot be given. 

 

Leads

Leads refer to when a consumer interacts with the website. This can be in the form of a phone call, form fill, message, or usage of a chat feature. Some marketers consider interacting with X number of pages a lead; leads can be surprisingly subjective.

As a marketing firm, we are responsible for increasing leads. We want to get people to your website and to call your firm. We will do this by running ads, improving your website, and making contact forms and chats accessible. 

 

Conversions

Conversions are when a consumer actually turns into a client. This means they got in contact with your firm and scheduled an appointment. It is direct business.

Your firm is responsible for increasing conversions. If we have done our job and increased leads, it’s now up to you to turn the leads into clients. We can’t answer your phones for you and we can’t provide legal advice during your lead’s free consultation. While increased conversions are an indicator of a successful marketing strategy, it’s a team effort. You owe it to your intake department for your growing client base.

 

When This Knowledge Comes in Handy

For the most part, the difference between leads and conversions is pretty semantic. If your account executive says their campaign resulted in increased conversions, chances are the campaign resulted in increased leads which later led to increased conversions. 

Alternatively, if you’re in the market for an agency and a salesperson talks about how much they increased conversions for a firm, ask what they consider a conversion. They might skirt the question. Maybe they’ll surprise you and say that they consider new clients conversions, in which case they would be correct. If they say they consider using a chat feature a conversion, dig a bit deeper. Sure it might be an innocent error, but it’s always good to be sure you can trust your agency. Don’t waste your money on a firm that’s pulling one over on you.